Saturday, June 25, 2005

How Do White Christians Feel About George W. Bush? --
Well, I am back to blogging after a long layoff. Start off with something I cross-posted to MyDD, the first political blog I ever read.

I've been dipping into some survey data and analyzing the political opinions of white Christians.  Because of the non-monolithic nature of Christianity, one must subdivide it into categories and compare. (Conclusions way at the end past all the tables.)

Currently, I am dividing Christianity into three subsets...

  1. Conservative Protestant Christian denominations

  2. Liberal Protestant Christian denominations

  3. Catholic and Eastern Orthodox

Conservative and Liberal are not meant in the political sense.  Rather, in this context, it refers to whether they read the Bible conservatively or liberally.  Another way to put it might be fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist Christians. Conservative Christian denominations include Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Baptists, Anabaptists, and Holiness sects, as well as people who profess to be generic Protestants or Christians, as they tend toward conservative religious views.  Liberal Christians tend to be from the so-called "mainline" Protestant churches, Congregational, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist. Eastern Orthodox are relatively small in number and sufficiently Catholic-like that I find it easy to group them with Roman Catholics.

I am looking specifically at white Catholics. Whites are taken to be those who self-identify as non-Hispanic whites not of mixed heritage.

A 2004 survey asked how often George W. Bush and John Kerry made voters feel angry, hopeful, afraid, or proud.  Here are some results among white Christians (note that the majority of non-whites are conservative Christians):

Key: CC=Conservative Christian, LC=Liberal Christian, C=Catholic, NC=white non-Christian, NW=non-whites

How Often Did George W. Bush make you feel angry

     Very  Fairly Occasionally Rarely

     Often Often

CC   25.2  23.4      28.8      22.5

LC   17.6  31.9      31.9      18.7

C    28.5  27.7      31.5      12.3

NC   40.0  23.8      26.2      10.0

NW   36.4  22.9      34.1       6.5

How did these groups feel about John Kerry when asked the same question?

     Very  Fairly Occasionally Rarely

     Often Often

CC   32.1  25.0      33.0       9.8

LC   18.3  33.3      30.0      18.3

C    16.5  24.7      43.5      14.1

NC   19.7  16.4      44.3      19.7

NW   13.8  17.2      44.8      24.1

Voters were asked if they approve of Bush handling the economy (E), foreign relations (FR), the budgeet deficit (BD), and the war on terror (WT)

    E     FR    BD    WT

CC  57.2  61.6  43.5  70.7

LL  57.1  50.0  35.2  64.8

C   41.4  44.0  29.3  56.0

NC  30.1  33.9  21.0  43.5

NW  22.6  24.7  18.8  35.7

Voters were asked if George W. Bush could be described as moral(M), a strong leader (SL), really caring about people (RC), knowledgeable (K), intelligent (I), and dishonest (D).  This is how people rated that Bush was extremely well or quite well described by those terms. * indicates that group ranked Kerry higher.

     M     SL    RC    K     I     D

CC   82.3  76.8  62.3  75.0  76.1  22.1*

LC   78.1  74.7  55.0  70.4* 68.7* 23.1*

C    75.9  67.2  47.9* 60.8* 60.3* 25.9

NC   55.4* 54.8* 36.5* 43.0* 43.0* 41.4

NW   49.1* 49.7  29.2* 44.4* 50.3* 41.7

However, when election day came, the votes were cast as follows:

    Kerry  Bush

CC  27.5   70.0

LC  34.9   62.8

C   46.9   51.4

NC  55.5   41.4

NW  71.9   23.6

(Curiously, among non-whites, non-Christians were the religious group most likely to go for Bush.)

Let's compare with how Democrats did among these groups in Congressional races:

    Senate  House

CC  30.9    27.0

LC  43.9    39.0

C   47.1    49.7

NC  56.7    64.0

NW  76.6    78.9

As the lines are drawn, white conservative (Protestant) Christians are clearly in the Republican camp and non-Christians and non-whites, Christian or not, are in the Democratic camp.  Clearly, the swing constituencies become white non-conservative (Protestant) Christians and white Catholics.  Of these groups, Catholics are currently more pre-disposed to vote Democratic than are liberal Christians.

In the future, if I get feedback that people like this sort of analysis and it is worth the time, I hope to identify wedge issues on which these groups diverge from conservative Protestants and unifying issues on which these groups join with non-Christians and non-whites.

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